What does poverty look like in 2021?

A person counts money and looks at their planner
Americans struggle in a pandemic year marked by economic hardship.
Karolina Grabowska on Pexels file

Last year, the U.S. saw the sharpest rise in poverty since the 1960s. According to economists from the University of Chicago and Notre Dame, the poverty rate increased by 2.4 percent in the last half of 2020 alone. For Black Americans, that increase was 5.4 percent.

This isn’t surprising. The pandemic has fueled record unemployment and exacerbated housing insecurity. 

You might be the closest you’ve come to poverty in your lifetime, thanks to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the richest Americans have only gotten richer. 

Host Angela Davis spoke with two experts about poverty in Minnesota and nationwide — from the misconceptions many of us have about poor people to the work being done to provide relief to those in need.

MPR News senior economics contributor Chris Farrell also joined the program and helped us understand what’s going on with the stock market.


  • Dr. Bruce Corrie is a Twin Cities-based economist and professor at Concordia University.

  • Paul Williams is the President and CEO of Project for Pride in Living, a non-profit providing housing and job training in the Twin Cities.

  • Chris Farrell is the senior economics contributor for MPR News. 

Use the audio player above to listen to the program.

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